Canadian Luge Team, Alex Gough and Sam Edney, along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith

CALGARY—The veterans of the Canadian Luge Team, Alex Gough and Sam Edney, along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, head into the critical 2018 Olympic season after capturing national titles on Saturday at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park.


The most successful slider in the history of the national program, Alex Gough, proved she remains the Queen of Canadian luge after taking top spot in the women’s national championship race for the ninth time in her career. The 30-year-old Calgarian posted the top two times en route to sliding into the winner’s circle on the 14-corner track. Gough stopped the clock at 1:35.472.


“It’s exciting to get going and start racing to see where we are at. I didn’t have the best runs. There are little things here and there to clean up, which is promising, because I know I can do that over the next couple of weeks as we get ready for the World Cup,” said Gough, who captured her second of three World Cup victories in her career on the Olympic Track in Calgary.


“I love racing at home. It has been a long week of training here so I’m a little tired, but this is a great way to cap things off.”


Gough’s World Cup comrade, Kim McRae, cleaned up a choppy first run to snag the silver medal with a time of 1:35.974. Calgary’s Carolyn Maxwell captured the coaches attention on Saturday. The 17-year-old slid to the bronze medal with a time of 1:35.978 in the strong women’s field.


“It was good to see how well some of the younger girls are developing. Our Canadian Championships are now definitely more competitive and that is nice to see those girls challenging Kim and I,” added Gough.


The veteran of the Canadian Luge Team, Sam Edney, proved he is still the man to beat in singles racing. The 33-year-old Calgarian, who capped off his return to the national program after taking one year off by winning a bronze medal at a World Cup in Pyeongchang, Korea, edged out Mitchel Malyk for top spot.


Edney clocked the top-two times for a golden finish of 1:31.951.


“It’s nice to get back into that racing atmosphere after a great week of training. The other boys put the pressure on me today so it was nice to have some of those race nerves,” said Edney. “An early race like this is important for us to not only feel some of that atmosphere up in the start house, but it is also important to get the equipment dialed in. That has been a big thing for us this fall so I was happy I was able to do that and have the consistency in both runs to get the win.”


Mitchel Malyk has been putting the heat on Edney in hopes of overtaking the veteran for top spot in the men’s program. Malyk finished six-thousandths off the pace to post a two-run time of 1:32.020.


Reid Watts, of Whistler, B.C., rounded out the men’s podium. The 18 year old gold medallist at the Youth Olympic Games placed third with a time of 1:32.047.


Canada’s top doubles squad of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith are anxious to start the World Cup season. The Calgary-based duo won their eighth-straight Canadian Championship crown with a two-run time of 1:35.993.


“We had two good starts and two consistent runs which was the goal today,” said Walker, who added the duo had a strong summer season of training. “The plan is to continue to build on the work that was done last year and over the summer. It’s nice to back into racing and see where we are at.”


British Columbia teenagers, Matt Riddle and Adam Shippit, were second in doubles at 1:37.847


The World Cup season officially kicks off, November 14, in Igls, Austria.